Patron saint of love and lovers.
The patron saint of love, lovers, and happy marriages has a change of heart.
Did you ever stop and wonder why we have a Saint Valentine's Day? Did you ever wonder who Saint Valentine was and what he did to earn such a saintly perch in the Catholic religion? By the way, no other holiday, not even Christmas, is celebrated as much by so many people all over the world and of all religions, as is Valentine's Day.
You know why that is, why everyone, no matter what their religion, celebrates St. Valentine's Day, don't you? Just try telling your wife or your girlfriend or your wife and your girlfriend that you didn't buy her anything on Valentine's Day because you're not Catholic, you're Jewish. See how well that goes over and what will happen to you. Further, it's not going to help your cause when your next door neighbor, Myron Rabinowitz, comes home with flowers, candy, and a Valentine's Day card for his Jewish princess, Beverly.
Suffice to say, if you didn't buy anything for your honey, I'd have your dog or cat taste test your dinner before eating it that night.
"Honey, this stew tastes funny."
"It's fine. Just eat it. Eat all of it."
Then, you look down where you gave some of your stew to the cat and she's not moving and (gulp) not breathing.
"Honey, I think Fluffy is dead."
"You didn't give her any of your stew, did you?"
Further, I'd keep one eye open, while I slept that night, if I were you.
"Honey, why are you taking that big, sharp knife to bed with you?"
"Oh, uhm, I need to trim my toenails. Goodnight," she says reaching to turn off the night with a deranged look on her face.
"No! Don't turn off the light! Leave it on!"
"Why do you want me not to turn off the light?"
"With the bedroom light on, I can better envision the big, huge actually, flawless diamond that I plan on buying you tomorrow, as a belated Valentine's gift. I love you, honey. Happy Valentine's Day."
In case you're still wondering, no, Saint Valentine is not a fake saint created by Victoria's Secrets, Fredericks of Hollywood, and the diamond industry. He's a real saint acknowledged by the Catholic Church. Beyond buying a romantic or funny greeting card, beyond buying the same roses that still don't bloom and die the very next day for twice the price of any other week of the year, beyond buying overpriced chocolates beautifully displayed in a satin and lace heart shaped box that you dump in the trash, once the candy is gone, did you ever wonder who Saint Valentine was?
I thought not. Only, you're not alone. To be honest, other than celebrating the holiday with my honey, I never gave Saint Valentine much thought myself. I thought he was just a phony saint created by Hallmark cards, Godiva candies, and the flower industry. I had no idea who he was either, until I did a bit of research and discovered that he really did exist, once upon a time.
Because Saint Valentine lived so long ago, at a time during the Roman Empire, there's not much known about him, not even his name. They didn't keep accurate records back then, especially about priests who sabotaged the Roman Empire, the Emperor's words, not mine. Only, after reading about him, I couldn't help but wonder what he'd do differently, if he lived today.
By the way, did you know that, according to the Catholic church, saints are not supposed to rest in peace; they're expected to keep busy: to perform miracles and to intercede on behalf of those, who are unable to help themselves? I didn't know that. In the name of God and their religion, being dead is no excuse for a saint not to perform their supernatural duties. This is the true story of Saint Valentine. He still walks among us.
Saint Valentine roamed the earth in the time of the Roman Empire. He was but a mere priest, an unnamed and unidentified priest at that, who took it upon himself to marry young couples, even though the Roman Emperor Claudius II forbade it. Claudius wasn't against love, lovers, and even happy marriages, so to speak. He just wanted that part of life, love and marriages, out of his army and away from his soldiers.
You see, Claudius thought, and rightly so, that married soldiers weren't as good as single or unmarried soldiers. I would suspect that the focus on war, fighting, and death instead of on love, marriage, and life had much to do with it. Based upon your brief encounter in the military, dear reader, you may disagree and even laugh at the concept, as being outrageous, in the fact that married soldiers weren't as good as unmarried soldiers whether back then or now. Yet, in our modern day of cars, cell phones, malls, and the Internet, this Roman Emperor knew a little more about soldiers, soldiering, armies, combat, and winning a war than we do, I dare say.
Without being able to launch an aerial attack, not having helicopters to remove the wounded, not even having a hospital to take the wounded to, if he could remove them from the battlefield to take them there, and without guns or bullets, not even having one AK-47, Emperor Claudius's army fought every battle with hand to hand combat. Talk about Post Traumatic Stress, can you imagine the blood and gore his soldiers must have witnessed, first hand?
Notwithstanding, it seems that Emperor Claudius was ahead of his time in his thinking. He didn't want his soldiers worrying about a wife and children back home. In our day, with the end of the United States draft and our army, navy, and air force replaced by an all volunteer military, volunteers who thought their commitment would only be a weekend a month and two weeks in the summer, reservists were unhappily surprised when they were shipping out to Afghanistan and Iraq for a year or two or more.
Married? Have children? Have a good job at home? Have bills to pay and obligations to meet? That's just a shame. That's just too bad. You're in the army, navy, and air force now, soldier, sailor, airman, and marine and Uncle Sam needs you and wants you.
You just have to look at our modern day army, the United States Reserves, to see that many of them are married with children. Not that there's anything wrong with a soldier being married with children, but let me ask you this. If you took a poll of our married with children reservists and if you took a poll of our young unmarried volunteers, those who didn't serve in the reserves, which group would you more likely want to go into combat. Which group would be more gung ho to die for their country and for the cause, not that anyone wants to die? Yet, do you see where I'm going with this?
With those thoughts in mind, which one of these men or women would you want to be your partner and watch your back? If I had my druthers, I'd take the younger, unmarried man or woman, the man or woman with not as much reason to live, the guy or gal who, knowing I had a spouse and children to go home to, would more push me out of the way of a grenade and fall on it himself to save his or her buddies.
I'm sure there are plenty of heroes, those soldiers who are married with children, but let's face it, I agree with Claudius. We are all human and every man and woman wants to make it home, more especially, I dare say, those with wives or husbands and kids than those without. I dare say, again, that Claudius was ahead of his time in his forward thinking.
If in combat and your buddy next to you is a daddy or mommy with children and you are a 19-year-old grunt, guess who is going to be picked as the volunteer for dangerous missions? Yet, even if daddy or mommy with children is chosen by his commanding officer or non-com to volunteer, accepts his mission, and goes full force into combat, don't you think with the thoughts of his wife and children back home that he's going to hold back just a little and be a bit more careful than the unmarried volunteer?
Sure, no one wants to die, but certainly a soldier with a spouse and children has more reason to live than an immature, testosterone filled 19-year-old, who has dreams of winning the Congressional Medal of Honor, even posthumously, while daddy or mommy with children just wants to make it home in one piece to his family. See what I mean? This is what Claudius figured out so long ago. Amazing. Times may have changed, but people are the same.
Even if they bypass in choosing you, the 19-year-old, to have daddy or mommy with children do some recognizance by scouting out that next hill or looking for improvised explosive devices, IED's, your fellow married soldier will give you, the 19-year-old, enough guilt and anguish for you to go in his place. Ergo, the reason why Emperor Claudius had this priest, one who married his soldiers without his permission, stoned, beaten, and then beheaded and the reason why this lowly priest is now a saint, Saint Valentine. This Saint Valentine was interfering with his army and back then, the Emperor's army was the only thing that stood between him being Emperor and him being dead.
"Long live Emperor Claudius!"
It took me a while, but I made my point for the sake of this story. So, what do you say does any of this have to do with Saint Valentine of all people? Everything.
Saint Valentine gave his life for love, lovers, and happy marriages and now look at the state of the world. Come on, seriously, how many people do you know who are happily married? Can you blame the guy, this lowly priest, this poor saint for just wanting to throw up his hands and give up on humanity? Is it any wonder why he cannot rest in peace, not that saints are allowed to rest in peace, even if they are dead?
"Saint Valentine, what are you still doing here? It's Valentine's Day. Shouldn't you be down on Earth with the rest of the saints?" Saint Peter looked at him with a curious stare.
"Why am I here? I must ask you the same question. Why are you here, Saint Peter? You're always here. You never leave your post," said Saint Valentine. "Why do you get to stay in Heaven when the rest of us saints must routinely return to that horrible planet, Earth?"
"Ah, you are called upon but one day a year, Saint Valentine, on Saint Valentine's Day, your namesake day, to make your presence known for the sake of love, lovers, and happy marriages," said Saint Peter giving Saint Valentine a fatherly look. "For me, my duty calls upon my being here 365 days a year. Dying is a 24/7 business, I'm afraid. I'm needed here all the time for there is always a line waiting to be admitted to Heaven." Saint Peter looked down the long line of dead souls waiting impatiently to gain access to the Heavenly Gates. "Hey, you," he said pointing a finger at someone misbehaving in line. "No pushing. You'll have your turn to state your case, momentarily."
"Is that Michael Jackson?" Saint Valentine stared down at the end of the line.
"Nah," said Saint Peter. "That's just another impersonator. The King of Pop is down there," he said pointing the other way.
"Isn't there someone else who can give you a hand to lighten your load?"
"Someone else? Who else is available to usher in the dead? I asked Michael, but as the Arch Angel, he copped an attitude that it's not his job. He said he has more important things to do, such as continuing his battle with the Devil. I even tried taking a break once, a vacation, I wanted to hop a Heavenly cloud to nowhere. I asked Saint Christopher to watch over the dead. Only, you know him. He loses everything. He misplaced a few of the dead and actually lost my master soul list. Luckily, I found those souls, along with my master list, but never again will I ask him to do me a favor," said Saint Peter.
"We all have our cross to bear, I guess," said Saint Valentine.
"What's wrong?" Saint Peter gave him an understanding look that only Saint Peter, someone who has heard every excuse in the book, could give.
"Oh, I've been talking to Cupid. Did you know he's on anti-depressant medication because of the state of the world and the sad state of love? He's been so depressed lately about divorces, loveless marriages, arranged marriages, mail order marriages, gay marriages, marriages performed just to allow illegal immigrants to stay in various countries, and Internet dating."
"I didn't know that. He's such a good little fellow that Cupid, so romantic. Always happy, he loves his job of shooting his golden arrows in people's buttocks. He's on top of my list, should he ever die, but he's immortal," he said looking at Saint Valentine. "Shouldn't you be attending a Valentine's Day function, somewhere on Earth, Saint Valentine?"
"I can't. I just can't. I'm tired. I'm depressed. I'm staying in Heaven," said Saint Valentine. "If I drink another cup of cherry fruit punch or eat another piece of Valentine's Day cherry cake with artificial pink frosting, I'll puke."
"Not doing it today? Tired? Depressed? You've worked all year for this one day. You can't stay in Heaven. This is the most important day of the year for you, Saint Valentine. Surely, you must go down to Earth. People depend upon you, especially today, of all days, the day of love, lovers, and happy marriages. You can't leave Cupid to handle it all on his own. He knows nothing of religion, just love. You know him, he means well but he's liable to say and do the wrong thing. What you don't know about love, he does and what he doesn't know about religion, you do. The pair of you make for a good team."
"People don't need me anymore," said Saint Valentine. "Sadly, I agree with Cupid. I understand his point about people now having the Internet with one click dating sites at the touch of their mouse. Besides, he's right, it's no longer about love. It's all about sex and it's all about money. Love, romance, and happy marriages are dead. People don't want to get married anymore. They just want to live together and get laid. Men just want a blowjob."
"Don't be silly. Romance is not dead, Saint Valentine," said Saint Peter. "There are still millions of people falling in love and getting married every day, which is the reason why they need you. Why just the other day, I ushered in a couple who had been married for seventy-five years. Can you imagine that, seventy-five years? I didn't dare tell them that I have sandals older than that, but they thought it was glorious and it was."
"They're the exception and not the rule, I'm afraid. Cupid is right, there's a pox on marriages, I tell you," said Saint Valentine. "Too many marriages today are marriages of convenience. When I think about what Cupid told me about arranged marriages, mail order marriages, multiple marriages, loveless marriages, gay marriages, and marriages just to allow an illegal alien to stay in a country, not to mention separations and divorces, is it any wonder people are trying anything, even the Internet to find love."
"Stop it with the poor pity party, Saint Valentine. Even with the Internet, dating sites, arranged, mail order marriages, loveless, gay, and illegal alien marriages, there is still love, lovers, and happy marriages. Not all of them end in separation and divorce."
"I'm so sad, Saint Peter."
"Snap out of it. You're Saint Valentine, the saint of love, lovers, and happy marriages. Just because Cupid is having a bad day doesn't mean that you must have one, too. You're above all of that. You have the gift to change all of that. You're above the laws of mere mortals souls. You are Saint Valentine, Saint Valentine."
"I am powerless to change anything, Saint Peter. People have a mind of their own," he said with a sadness that flattened his wings and drooped his halo. "There's been a marked decline in people praying and going to church, even. They don't realize that Valentine's Day is more about the Passion of Espiritu than it is about hearts, flowers, and those little Necco candies with all those cute sayings on them. I just love those things. They think Valentine's Day is more about Hallmark cards and getting lucky."
"If you cannot do it for yourself, if you cannot do it for humanity, if you cannot do it for love, lovers, and happy marriages, then you must do it for the Holy Father, The Son, and The Holy Ghost. Now get down to Earth immediately and perform your saintly duties."
"You're right. Thank you, Saint Peter."
Saint Valentine flew off at supersonic speed and landed on Earth in front of an abortion clinic, just in time to see a gay day parade and a skin head protest. Off in the distance he saw a long line at the United States armory. Soldiers were saying good-bye to their loved ones, their wives, their girlfriends, their wives and girlfriends, and their children.
"Wait! Stop! Don't go," he yelled, but no one could hear him.
He was not of this Earth. He wasn't among the living anymore. He was dead, albeit he was still a saint, the saint of love, lovers, and marriages. Surely, there was something that he could do to prevent married soldiers going to war, yet, again.
He flew at supersonic speed to the White House and whispered his thoughts in the ear of the President. It was a miracle. Immediately, the Chief Commanding Officer of the United States military had an idea. He had a proclamation drafted that he read at an impromptu press conference.
"In honor of Saint Valentine, in honor of Saint Valentine's Day, in honor of love, lovers, and happy marriages everywhere, there will be no deployment of troops going overseas today. For this one day of the year, there will be no war, no dead, and no dying. Tomorrow, you'll all will have to watch your ass, but today we will celebrate Saint Valentine's Day. Happy Saint Valentine's Day."
Saint Valentine was happy. His spirit renewed, if even only for one day, he was able to stop the United States troops departing for Afghanistan and Iraq. We need more saints like Saint Valentine and more days without war. May God protect the United States of America and send our troops home.